Fern Ridge Review
Sweet Lorane Community News
September 5, 2019
By Pat Edwards
This week I lost a very special friend.—But, how do I begin to tell you about Nancy O’Hearn?… I guess that the beginning of our relationship would be the most logical place to begin.
Nancy’s family went back at least four generations in the Lorane area when her great-grandparents settled here. Although we don’t remember the early times, Nancy had a photograph to prove that we played together as toddlers. Her grandparents, Insley and Vera Seales, who lived on Territorial Road, south of Jackson-Marlow Road near Lorane, were best friends of my grandparents, Guy and Lula Smith, who had a ranch at the end of Powell Road. The photo shows us playing at the Seales ranch at the feet of our grandparents. Our fathers were also good friends during that time period and in later years, as well.
It wasn’t until Jim and I bought our own ranch on Lorane Highway in 1966, that we got to know Nancy’s father, Welmer Seales, really well, and through him, Nancy and her husband Mike. Our friendship blossomed, and sweet, quiet Nancy became an honorary aunt to our kids. I still have very vivid mental pictures of our youngest daughter, Kelly, sitting on Coach Nancy’s lap in between “at bats” in her grade school softball games.
In 1977, when we bought the Mitchell Store in Lorane, Nancy came to work for us as our sole employee. Our friendship with each other bonded even more, and when Marna Hing, another good friend, came on board, we formed a close-knit “three musketeers”-type relationship as we all worked together on our family genealogies. As we compared notes on own family histories, Marna and I developed an interest in the branches of Nancy’s family who had settled in Lorane generations before. That interest led to the realization, in the mid-1980s, that Lorane would be celebrating its 100th birthday in about four years.
By mutual agreement, we decided to change our focus from our own families to Lorane’s history. We spread the word that we were gathering stories, photos, memorabilia and family information of early Lorane. The response was amazing! The Lorane “old-timers” got behind our project and soon the three of us were interviewing members of some of the original families and recording the stories that had been passed down from their grandparents and parents.
Nancy, Marna and I spent about three years, collecting that information from whatever sources that we could get it. We gazed at the stark black microfiche with white text in the libraries we haunted and checked out every book we could find with information we could use.
I bought a computer in 1984, and taught myself word processing on WordPerfect Jr. that had just come out. I began entering the information I received in files which eventually became chapters. I gradually graduated to using the new full version of WordPerfect, and slowly it progressed into a book that we named Sawdust and Cider; A History of Lorane, Oregon and the Siuslaw Valley. By May 1987, our book became reality when we had 500 pre-ordered copies printed. That year, the Lorane Post Office would be turning 100 years of age, so all three of us were on the planning committee for the Lorane Centennial—a huge 3-day event that was well-attended and is remembered still as an outstanding success in celebrating our community.
Oh! how much fun we had at the book signings that were part of the Centennial. We were treated like celebrities and the original 500 books plus another 1,000 sold quickly.
By 2006, both Nancy and Marna’s health had taken a downturn, so I put together a major revision of the book on my own. I felt it was necessary because of the huge changes to our economy between 1987 and 2006 caused by the slow-down of the timber industry and the birth of the Oregon wine industry. We had also gathered quite a bit more information that I wanted to incorporate into the original book. The whole time I worked on the revision, Nancy and Marna made themselves available as consultants and sounding boards and I consider them my co-authors still.
When the new book was published in 2006, we once again were invited to do booksignings at Iris Hill, King Estate and Chateau Lorane. We were the “three musketeers” again for awhile.
Sadly, four years later in 2010, we lost Marna. How we both missed her.
Nancy continued to work for us at the store before she eventually retired and went to live with her good friends and former neighbors, Gary and Kathy Warden, down south Territorial Road. Her husband, Mike, had died, and their adopted daughter, Heidi, had left home to raise her own family. Nancy was never without biological family, but most lived out of state and she didn’t see them often. Her local family became Gary and Kathy and their family. Other local children adopted Nancy into their hearts and she became an honorary mother/grandmother to them as well. She was loved and cherished by so many and she returned that love a hundred-fold in her own quiet way.
Earlier this year, Nancy’s health worsened and after a hospital stay, she had to be moved to a medical rehab center in Eugene until she could regain her ability to take care of herself once again in the Warden household. Because of Jim’s and my own health concerns the past few months, I did not get to visit with her as often as I would have liked. Last month, after a long stretch of not seeing her, I was able to go to visit her again. I walked into her room, shamefaced and apologetic for having been away so long, and she reached up from her wheelchair and gave me a huge, comforting hug. I knew I was forgiven.
That last time together, we talked as she ate lunch in the sunny dining room. She was bright and cheerful and so very glad to see me. I promised I’d bring her some more copies of Sawdust and Cider since she told me that the one she had with her had been borrowed and not returned. As I was preparing to leave, she reached up with arms outstretched to receive a hug and she whispered in my ear, “I love you!”
“I love you, too!”
I didn’t know at the time, but that was our last good-bye.
NANCY SEALES O’HEARN (March 13, 1943 to September 1, 2019)
Nancy Gene Seales O’Hearn passed away at the SouthTowne Rehabilitation Care Center in Eugene on August 31, 2019. She was born on March 13, 1943, in Eugene, Oregon, to Welmer and Roseine Dockter Seales. At the time of her birth, she had an older brother, Jerry Wayne Seales. The following year, a younger sister, Bonnie Kay Seales, was born, but Bonnie only lived to the age of 4.
Nancy’s family on both sides were early settlers, going back 5 generations in the Lorane, Oregon area. Her paternal great-great grandfather, Nathan G. Coleman, and his wife, Mary Henry Coleman, brought their family of 6 children from Missouri to Oregon on September 22, 1853, and acquired a 320-acre donation land claim in the Siuslaw Valley (later Lorane, Oregon) on July 11, 1854.
Her maternal great-great grandfather, John Sutherland, and his wife Nancy, arrived in the Lorane area sometime before 1907 and built a home located on Lorane Highway, north of the current Gillespie Corners. Their daughter, Nancy Eleanor Sutherland, married Leven Jackson Henderson who settled in Lorane in 1910 where he established a blacksmith shop across from the Methodist Church.
After the divorce of their parents, Nancy and Jerry, gained two half-sisters, Michelle Rene Leonard and Cathleen Jane Seales.
Nancy married at the age of 18 to Thomas Edward Ballinger, but the marriage ended in divorce six years later. At the time, she was living in Humboldt County, California.
In 1973, she married Edward “Mike” O’Hearn in Arcata, California and they moved to Lorane, Oregon to be close to her father and the ancestral home that still stands on the Nathan Coleman donation land claim.
Nancy and Mike became involved in Lorane community events and lived for a while in the rented “Philson house” located on the corner of Territorial and Ham Roads. A few years later, they bought a small home in “downtown” Lorane, just down the hill from the current Lorane Fire Department.
The O’Hearns had no children of their own, but Nancy became “Aunt Nancy” to many of the children of Lorane. She loved being surrounded by them and provided childcare for many.
In 1977, Nancy went to work at the Lorane Family Store that Jim and Pat Edwards had just purchased from the Mitchell family. She worked there for almost 20 years, during which time she and Pat became close personal friends. In the early 1980s they began researching their family histories with another friend, Marna Hing. Soon their interest turned to the history of their town of Lorane, and after 3 years of research, Pat, Nancy and Marna produced a book called Sawdust and Cider: A History of Lorane, Oregon and the Siuslaw Valley, which is still being used today as a reference for the area. Nancy took a great deal of pride in their accomplishment.
Nancy’s husband, Mike O’Hearn died in 1983 and in March 1994, as a single widow, Nancy adopted a daughter, Heidi Kay.
Nancy is survived by her daughter, Heidi O’Hearn Morrison, three grandsons, Lance, Zane and Ryan, her brother, Jerry, half-sisters, Michelle Rene Leonard and Cathie Seales Rash, and niece Allyson Seales Honeycutt.
Nancy would also want to list the members of her “adopted” Lorane family whom she lived with for the last years of her life, too. They are Gary and Kathy Warden, Paula Warden May and Jeramie Warden as well as countless Lorane children who called her “Aunt Nancy” through the years and still feel her love.
Nancy’s Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, September 14, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. at the Lorane Grange. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lorane Grange #54, P.O. Box 54, Lorane, OR 97451. Nancy Seales O’Hearn